Focus on Fossils

Below: This ammonite has broken along the chamber wall which is quite simple towards the middle of the shell but becomes folded like a curtain towards the outer edge where the chamber wall meets the external shell which in this case has broken away to show the suture line.

Nature’s greatest innovators Molluscs are animals like mussels, clams, snails, slugs, cuttlefish and octopus. They include extinct creatures such as ammonites and belemnites. Molluscs are a hugely diverse group of animals. Although they look very different, they have a common basic Read More…

Costa Rica lizard

From fish to…us! The rocks along the Jurassic Coast span the period of time known as ‘the Age of the Reptiles’, which includes the era of the dinosaurs. Reptiles evolved from fish that crawled out of the sea up to Read More…

Echinoderms

Animals with spiny skins and horrible habits! The echinoderms are the ‘stars’ of the marine world. They include starfish, sea urchins and crinoids or sea lilies. Many are found as intricately-patterned fossils, dating back over 500 million years.  The family Read More…

Ancient animals – with armour! Crustaceans have been around for over 500 million years and many still look the same as they did back then. Most crustaceans live in the sea, including crabs, lobsters, shrimps and prawns, but the family Read More…

Bryozoans

Animals that spread like moss Bryozoans are tiny animals that grow on the surfaces of rocks, plants or animal shells. Thousands can join together to form a mat of identical individuals. They are filter feeders that sieve particles of food Read More…

Fossilised leaf

When strange conifers and ferns covered the earth Fossilised wood is often found along the Jurassic Coast, usually having been washed into the sea from the land. We also have entire fossil forests at Lulworth and the Isle of Portland, Read More…

Costa Rica dragonfly

Almost too fragile for fossils Some of the most surprising fossils found along the Jurassic Coast are insects. This includes beetles, flies, dragonflies and even grasshoppers. They are only fossilised in a few rock layers where the sediment was fine Read More…

Fossil footprint

The signs of ancient animals It’s not only the actual body parts of dead animals and plants that can become fossils. Trace fossils are tracks and burrows made by animals as they went about their lives millions of years ago. Read More…

Shark tooth

Armoured scales and tell-tale teeth There are many kinds of fossil fish along the Jurassic Coast – but not all of them are like the fish we know today. Most were covered in armoured scales that didn’t rot, creating a Read More…

Ancient sea shells Brachiopods are marine animals that have existed for around 550 million years. They have a pair of shells, which they can clamp shut for protection, or open slightly to filter the water for food.  Although brachiopods once Read More…

Sunset corals

Tiny animals with remarkable relatives Corals are made up of animals that look like tiny sea anemones. Together these animals form colonies, and colonies join together to create reefs. Coral is often found as fossils, showing that these creatures date Read More…

Axinella

Animals that can reinvent themselves Sponges are amongst the most primitive and basic animals alive. They don’t have a nervous, digestive or circulatory system, but feed by filtering the water for organic particles. They come in all shapes and sizes, Read More…

Bispira, a common tubeworm on the shallow, rocky reefs in Lyme Bay

Tough guys or shrinking violets? Tubeworms, as the name suggests, are worms that protect themselves by living in a hard tube which they secrete around their body. They are a hugely successful group in the world’s oceans today and their Read More…

Pseudofossils

Formations that look like fossils Our collections include some weird and interesting rocks, including some that look just like fossils, known as pseudo-fossils. But fossils are the remains of living plants and animals (organic), and most rocks are inorganic. Here are Read More…

Hippopotamus tooth

From shrews that walked with dinosaurs… The mammal fossils in our collections include huge tusks, teeth and bones of elephants and hippos. Most date back to the Ice Age, but mammals did exist millions of years before this, beginning with Read More…